tampabay.com

LB heals enough to earn starting nod

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published October 29, 2006


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Florida State middle linebacker Jae Thaxton, who had missed the previous four games as he recovered from a concussion, not only was cleared to play Saturday against Maryland, he started.

It was his first career start.

The speedy 6-foot-3, 233-pound redshirt sophomore missed the final 10 games of last season as he battled symptoms from a concussion, which raised concerns Thaxton might be out far longer. He had a tackle on Maryland's first play from scrimmage.

FIRST-TIMERS AT QB: Since joining the ACC in 1992, FSU has had 12 quarterbacks start a game, including Xavier Lee on Saturday. The others: Charlie Ward Duke, 1992, Danny Kanell (at Maryland, 1993), Thad Busby (Duke, 1996), Dan Kendra (Wake Forest in Orlando, 1996), Chris Weinke (Texas A&M in East Rutherford, N.J., 1998), Marcus Outzen (at Wake Forest, 1998), Chris Rix (at Duke, 2001), Adrian McPherson (at Wake Forest, 2002), Fabian Walker (Georgia, in the 2003 Sugar Bowl), Wyatt Sexton (North Carolina, 2004) and Drew Weatherford (Miami, 2005).

Lee became the second to lose, after Walker.

ANOTHER FIRST-TIMER: FSU redshirt junior receiver Joslin Shaw (Plant City), known as a ferocious downfield blocker, made his first career start. He had two catches for 35 yards in the first quarter.

WELCOME BACK: FSU freshman tight end Brandon Warren, who missed the previous week's loss to Boston College with a left hamstring strain, returned to the lineup. Junior defensive tackle Alex Boston, out against BC with a left ankle injury, also played.

REVOLVING DOOR: Sophomore Neefy Moffett started at defensive end for FSU, which wasn't just a first for him but made him the sixth player to start there. Darrell Burston, Alex Boston, D.J. Norris, Everette Brown and Kevin McNeil also have gotten a nod there this season.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Seminoles end the regular season with four home games. The last time they never left home in November was in 1992, when they closed 3-0.

ON THE TRIP: Former FSU standout Paul McGowan, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker in 1987, accompanied FSU to Maryland for the game. It was his first trip ever. He's a fire fighter in Altamonte Springs.

FAMILIAR FACES: In addition to standout offensive guard Donnie Woods (Jefferson High), the bay area is well represented on Maryland's roster with junior defensive end Jermaine Lemons (Jefferson, out injured), freshman receiver Terrell Skinner (Boca Ciega, taking a redshirt) and senior tailback Josh Allen (Hillsborough).

Maryland, which names captains on a game-by-game basis, had Allen represent the offense on Saturday.

THE BAND PLAYED ON: FSU's Marching Chiefs didn't make the trip, but the Seminoles had a 135-member alumni pep band on hand, including a former Marching Chief from Hawaii.

IN THE BLACK: An online auction of FSU's specially designed, predominantly black jerseys worn last week against Boston College to honor the Seminole Tribe of Florida fetched $4,600. The proceeds are earmarked to help pay the way for a deserving student from the tribe.

Brian Landman can be reached at (813) 226-3347 or landman@sptimes.com.